Project Runway judges…do they ever get it right?

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Just watched the latest episode of Project Runway All-Stars: a challenge sponsored by Zales that asked the designers to represent their personal relationship histories in a party dress (random).

Helen and Sonjia both put up great designs (though Helen’s really didn’t strike me as a party dress), and ended up in the top. But I loved Michelle’s dress and really thought she should have been top 3.

The raspberry hue takes the lace current, and the buckle detailing adds a little bit of edge, and defines the waist to make this dress super-flattering. The low back is just the right touch of bareness. I love that Michelle doesn’t feel like her models have to be half-undressed to have sex appeal.

What gets me is that everything about this dress – the lace, the ruffles, the color – I would normally hate, but she just made it work. I just had to put my two cents out there, since Michelle didn’t even get a mention from the judges–I loved her fashion week collection the first time around, and if she continues in this vein she’ll be one of my favorites this season.

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Benefit’s Cheeky Sweet Spot has a spot in my heart

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I showed admirable – ADMIRABLE – restraint, I think, in purchasing only one of the loverly blush palettes on offer this holiday season–and the cheapest one at that. Benefit’s Cheeky Sweet Spot Box o’ Blushes retails for $36 and includes 6 of Benefit’s boxed powders and a cream highlight; it’s sold out many places by now, but it was still available on the Macy’s website when I checked today, and you may still be able to find it in stores.

Benefit’s blush formula has never been my favorite: it’s sheer and shimmery, while I usually like a blush to be matter and full-pigment. But I do love some of their shades, and I have always had a lingering curiosity – I could just never pull the trigger on that full-price. So when I saw this set it seemed ordained by fate.

The only bummer — I wish this set contained Dallas instead of Sugarbomb; then I could put my Benefit fascination finally to rest.

Ah well. I’m still really happy with the set for that price point. If you want to know more, check out my video review:

 

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WTF! Free 3-day shipping, you say, Sephora? LIES!

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Just got this e-mail from Sephora. I was wondering why I hadn’t received a shipping notice yet, because I placed my order quite a while ago (11/8), and as a VIB Rouge I am SUPPOSED to get 3-day shipping.

Now, I understand that these things can happen, especially if they had a significantly greater volume of online orders for the VIB sale than previous years. I do however, think that they should have sent out a notification earlier–say, when it became obvious that I wouldn’t get my order within the promised 3 days.

However, I do appreciate that at least they are doing something to make up for it, and putting extra points in my beauty bank so I can get some free deluxe samples.

Has anyone else had this issue with Sephora?

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REVIEW + SWATCHES: Tarte Sweet Indulgences 3-in-1 Gift Set for Holiday 2014 – QVC Today’s Special Value

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Hey All! This was my first holiday purchase of Holiday 2014 — not even close to my last.

The Tarte Sweet Indulgences 3-in-1 Gift Set is available on qvc.com, and will be the Today’s Special Value for November 10. It includes oodles of full-size products. Though not every product was outstanding, the set did include some real standouts.

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Quick Look: Vice vs. Vice (some choice swatch comparisons)

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Guess what I broke down and got!

Yes, you knew it was coming. How could I resist and Urban Decay holiday palette. Two years in a row now I have looked at pics of the Urban Decay Vice palettes without much enthusiasm, and two years in a row I’ve nonchalantly swatched the thing in store and decided I MUST HAVE IT! This is actually what I love about Urban Decay–the brand always challenges me to rethink what I like and what I would wear.

And of course, as soon as I got my new one, I pulled out the old Vice 2 palette so I could cackle maniacally over my hoards of eyeshadowy treasure. I started looking at the two side-by-side, and began comparing colors by rubbing swatches all over my arms.

While this turned out to be a somewhat silly exercise, since the two palettes are totally different, I thought I’d share my labors nonetheless. Here you have it: a tale of two vices.

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(Almost) Dupe Alert! Laura Mercier vs. Prestige Cosmetics Highlighting Powders

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So I’m always looking for a bargain. I love high-end products, but I’m not one to pay extra money just for fun (or just for packaging) if the product isn’t superior to something I could get at the drugstore. Ipso facto, I’m always on the lookout for dupes.

On a recent trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond (which has become my go-to spot for stocking up on any drugstore items), I was perusing the selection from Prestige Cosmetics.

If you’re not familiar with Prestige…neither am I, at least not until recently. It’s not sold at any drugstore chains in my area. The only place I have seen it is at a couple of beauty supply stores and BB&B, though you can also order from their website. I was initially turned off by the name (instead of actually being a prestige brand of cosmetics, they’ve just named themselves “Prestige” brand–the irony), but eventually I got curious. I’ve tried a few products from them in the past year and, on the whole, I’ve been pretty pleased.

So I couldn’t help but be intrigued when I spied a baked mineral powder that reminded me of one of my favorite high-end highlights: Laura Mercier’s Matte Radiance Baked Powder in “Highlight.”

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Prestige “Pure Shimmer” (left), Laura Mercier Matte Radiance “Highlight” (right)

 

The Prestige Cosmetics Sun Baked Mineral Bronzing Powder actually comes in three shades, two of which are deeper and look more like bronzing powders, but I was pulled in by “Pure Shimmer”, the lightest shade of the bunch. Now granted, these two powders do not actually look that similar in the pan. The Prestige powder has a lot of marbling, while the Laura Mercier powder is almost uniform in color. This marbling makes it hard to tell what the Prestige version would look like applied; it seems like it might be darker, more bronze, or possible more golden, than the LM version. But there was something about the sheen, the way the Prestige version reflected the light, that made me want to swatch them side-by-side.

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Prestige “Pure Shimmer” (left), Laura Mercier Matte Radiance “Highlight” (right) – sunlight

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Prestige “Pure Shimmer” (left), Laura Mercier Matte Radiance “Highlight” (right) – shade

I am not going to say these are exact dupes. The Laura Mercier powder is more pigmented. It’s texture is smoother (though for a drugstore product, the Prestige powder is impressively silky). The shades may be very slightly off — I think the Laura Mercier version is a hair more beige. But when applied and blended out on the skin, they really look identical. 

The Prestige Cosmetics’ Sunbaked Mineral Bronzing Powders retail for $11.95, while the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powders will cost you $38 apiece, a.k.a. a little over three times the price. The Prestige powder also gives you very slightly more product: 8 grams versus the 7.5 grams you get with the Laura Mercier product.

It might not be a 100% dupe, but for those on a budget Prestige Cosmetics’ “Pure Shimmer” is an excellent alternative to that gorgeous LM highlight.

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Quick Look: Laura Mercier Fairy Dust Eye Shimmers

IMG_3798I popped into my local Sephora recently for a little swatch fest; tis the season to make a big long list of items to buy for the Friends and Family / VIB sales, and to decide what to start dropping hints to my family about. (In fact, I’ll have a haul from the Sephora F&F sale pretty soon…)

These little Laura Mercier Fairy Dust Eye Shimmers caught me by surprise. I haven’t heard anything about them online. If the store display is to be believed, they are limited edition and exclusive to Sephora for the holiday season.

As the name suggests these are basically loose, shimmery eyeshadows–there are five shades, some more sparkly, some with a more metallic iridescent finish. I was drawn in, and just had to swatch.

L to R: Crushed Copper, Crushed Onyx, Crushed Platinum, Crushed Lapis, Crushed Amethyst

L to R: Crushed Copper, Crushed Onyx, Crushed Platinum, Crushed Lapis, Crushed Amethyst

The shades didn’t exactly swatch well. It took several swipes to build up the pigmentation. I think these will need a primer and/or mixing medium to help them apply smoothly, evenly, and with full color. But the shades were very pretty. Crushed Amethyst seemed a little blah to me, but all the others were quite lovely.

My favorites were Crushed Platinum (a white gold) and Crushed Lapis (an iridescent aqua with green/gold shift). While Crushed Platinum seemed similar enough to MAC’s Nylon not to tempt me to shell out $28, I couldn’t resist Crushed Lapis, and it went on my F&F sale shopping list.

The reviews on Sephora’s site are mixed, but there’s only a couple of them, so stay tuned if you want to know more; once I’ve had a chance to use Crushed Lapis, I’ll let you know if it was worth the hefty price tag.

 

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Review: Forever21 Love and Beauty Lash Extension Duo

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There’s been a lot of hype this year about various lash-extension systems, especially of course the Too Faced Better than False Lashes. Having heard mixed reviews, I was reluctant to drop any serious change to try a set.

IMG_3369So when I saw a discount version at Forever21, I decided I’d give it a try. The price was low enough that even if it didn’t work I wouldn’t feel too sad.

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And the Forever21 version looked very similar to the Too Faced system, with a black mascara, and a second tube filled with false lash fibers. You put fuzzy hairs on your lashes and glue them down with mascara. It doesn’t seem like rocket science. Forever21 should be able to pull it off, right?

 

 

IMG_3370Wrong. Not only did this not give me a false lash effect, it didn’t even give me the effect I would expect out of a mediocre mascara.

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I think the biggest problem was the “lash extension primer with fibers.” I pulled out the wand, and not only did I not see any fibers–I didn’t even see any primer. The wand felt dry, and though the tube were empty. After multiple coats it barely looked as though anything had transferred to my lashes. There was just the slightest tinge of white there to allude to the product that might have been.

Maybe I got a bad tube–an old one that Forever21 left on their shelves to the point where it had dried out before it even opened. But this wasn’t the only problem.

IMG_3374The mascara itself, though it seemed the right consistency, just did very little for my lashes. It was a slightly wetter formula, which I had trouble building up on my lashes without sticking them together (even letting it dry several minutes between coats). I’m betting this was largely due to the brush, whose bristles are quite spaced out, so that they weren’t able to grab onto the lashes to coat them well, or to comb through and separate them.

My naked eye.

My naked eye.

With Forever21 Lash Extension Duo

With Forever21 Lash Extension Duo

I got a little bit of length, but my lashes stuck together, looked spidery, and wanted to poke out in all directions.

IMG_3526Granted, I paid less for the duo than I would a typical drugstore mascara, but considering that the primer seemed so pointless and the mascara so unflattering that I decided to chuck them after only a week of use, I’m not sure I got my money’s worth. From now on, I’ll head to Forever21 if I need a statement necklace or sweatshirt with a giant glittery kitten on the front, but I’ll get my makeup from those who know.

 

 

 

 

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Review: Tarte Colored Clay Liquid Foundation

Tarte Colored Clay Liquid FoundationIt’s just characteristic of my life that when I’m finally ready to review a product, it seems to no longer be available.

Tarte’s Colored Clay Liquid Foundation launched as part of a QVC Today’s Special Value earlier this year. Normally, this would be a preview to a full launch, but I’m not sure whether this product was ever available for retail sale. At any rate, it doesn’t seem to be up on QVC’s site now, nor on Tarte’s. But I’m posting my review anyway, in case Tarte decides to roll the product out again for any of their holiday launches.

 

IMG_3547The most distinctive thing about the foundation was the packaging. It’s a jar with mesh fabric stretched over a central opening–very similar to the packaging for Tarte’s Airbrush loose powder foundation, but a bizarre choice for a liquid foundation. When I first bought the foundation, the product was constantly overflowing, making it difficult to avoid picking up too much. It worked much better after I had a used up a bit of the foundation, but this turned out to be a temporary reprieve. As I used more, it got increasingly difficult to pick up any at all, since the brush could no longer reach the product once it dipped below the halfway mark. As you can see in the picture above, I eventually tore the mesh trying to get to the product. Even after removing the mesh altogether, it was difficult to get at the last quarter of the product due to the narrow hole.

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That being said, there were so good things about this product. It give light to medium coverage, and left a lovely finish on the skin, blending in seamlessly and leaving just a touch of glow, without looking greasy.

Bare faced

Bare faced

With Tarte Colored Clay Liquid Foundation

With Tarte Colored Clay Liquid Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s such a lovely effect, in fact, that I would almost be prepared to put up with the rubbish packaging, but unfortunately there was one other drawback. The foundation simply didn’t last. For 3 or 4 hours it would be alright, but by the end of the workday, it would be visually disintegrating on my face. As lovely as it looks when I put it on, it doesn’t do me much good if it’s going to look bad by lunchtime.

IMG_3555Anyone else try this product? Do tell!

 

 

 

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Quick Look: Make Up For Ever 30th Anniversary Palette

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IMG_3721IMG_3722So here’s the thing. I ordered the MUFE 30th Anniversary Palette when it came out…what, like 2 or 3 weeks ago now? More?

And there it sits. And sits. And sits. And I just can’t make up my mind to actually use it.

 

Since it was limited edition, and pricey as all hell, I’d feel bad returning it after using it–unless there was an issue with quality. So I need to decide if I actually want to keep it before I dip in. And I just. can’t.

 

 

$250 for one palette. A large palette, yes. But $250? So I’m, like, paralyzed. Can’t make up my mind to keep it, can’t make up my mind to return it.

Any advice?

 

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